• Simone


According to The British Security Industry Authority (BSIA), there are up to 5.9 million CCTVs including 750,000 in “sensitive locations” such as schools, hospitals and care homes. The survey author estimate is that at least one camera for every 11 people in the UK.[1]

Whatever we do or whether we go, we are constantly under some form of surveillance. Surveillance is becoming commonplace in service delivery. Whenever we use a telephone service, we are always informed that phone calls will be recorded for training and monitoring purposes.

Not only are phone calls, but our face-to-face services are increasingly being recorded. Whilst body-worn cameras are widely used within criminal justice areas of work such as policing and in prisons, nevertheless such technology is being deployed within health and social care settings. Whilst, CCTV has been used to promote opportunities to improve mental health care in challenging situations, nevertheless the use of cameras in care is a controversial one, particularly if the surveillance is being undertaken within a disabled person’s own room in an institutional setting or within their own homes.

Surveillance technology does not itself create mistrust or trust; it’s the relationship between the PA user and PA. The first question should always be asked what is the motivation and purpose of surveillance technology – is it to view and improve quality of care whilst ensuring any accusation of wrong-doing is evidenced before action is taken. If one works in the bank or retail, staff are under constant surveillance, there is little uproar about this. When I worked in retail, CCTVs were everywhere capturing every move I make. Whilst, I did not fear CCTV for wrong-doing, one was always aware of how a genuine mistake can be viewed, that can be anything from interaction with the customer, dealing with their transaction or whatever. So in care environments, it may make PAs be over-cautious – shall I share that joke, sing-a-long or try comforting the PA user in a different manner – what happens if it all goes pear shape whilst on camera? So, having surveillance installed in a PA user’s home may stifle innovation and humanity.

There are questions about consent – can it be assumed that consent by the PA and PA user fore-knowingly they are in an environment with installed surveillance technology – similarly when I or the customer is in a retail shop – whilst none of us have been formally asked for consent to be recorded, nevertheless can it be implied – i.e. by being in the store – If either workers and customers did not want to be recorded, we are at liberty to walk out of environment. Why would it be any different in a care setting – PA user can choose not to record their care whilst PAs are at liberty to leave the environment.

Recording in retail and care environments could be viewed as reasonable as they are used for specific purposes, to deter criminal and other unlawful activity. But what if surveillance technology is used within areas that could involve infringes of personal privacy and dignity, such as filming taking place in staff rooms, toilets or outside the work environment? However in care settings, toilets and other similar facilities that are shared by PAs and PA users’ are situated within domestic working environments. Questions about human rights breaches may arise as we all have a right to a private and family life, free from intrusive surveillance even within our work environments.

It appears that surveillance technology is mainly pursued by relatives of loved ones; many of them are lacking capacity or feel unable to speak out against abusive care. Such technology may not only interfere with the PA but also the PA user’s right to dignity whilst in receipt of personal care. And what about the recording of others people, family members, friends and visiting professionals, they all have a right to privacy. Whilst, the technology has been installed to monitoring PA and PA user relationship, nevertheless it can have far reaching consequences upon the relationships with others. Placing surveillance technology in homes may have the opposite effect, whereby there is no determinant, after all who will have the time to wave through all the filming day in and day out in order to obtain the relevant footage. When there are fewer humans involved watching increasing numbers of CCTV screens across a range of environments, it is very likely that perpetrators are less likely to be caught.

Before installing any form of surveillance technology please seek legal advice. CQC have published information that may assist anyone to make the decision:


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